Chablis has ‘brand strength of Champagne’

The strength of “brand Chablis” and its pulling power in terms of driving sales is on a par with Champagne according to one leading producer in the region.

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent trip to the region, Nathalie Févre of Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Févre said: “Chablis has the brand strength of Champagne to the extent that people buy on the fact that it’s Chablis over the domaine or climat name.

Thierry Mothe, winemaker at Domaine du Colombier agrees: “I view Chablis as a brand. Back in the ‘60s it was widely faked in Australia and New Zealand and continues to be faked in the US – only brands are faked,” he told db.

Nathalie Fèvre

Nathalie Fèvre

“The word Chablis on the label is physically bigger and psychologically more important of a purchase driver than the estate name,” he added.

Jean-Francois Curie, commercial director at Domaine Drouhin Vaudon has noticed a newfound enthusiasm for grand cru Chablis in the US.

“There’s a new wave of interest in Chablis at the moment, particularly in the grand cru wines, they’re hugely popular in the US.

“Chablis is considered apart from Burgundy as its own thing and its own brand. Of course it is Burgundy, but it’s Chablis first, Burgundy second,” he said.

“The style of Chablis is going back to being more tense and linear, which is what we’re all about. The more fleshy and opulent Chablis of the ‘80s are being phased out and we’re coming back to what the region is known for,” he added.

Domaine Drouhin Vaudon recently acquired two hectares in the premier cru climat of Mont de Milieu.

“There is Premier Cru land up for sale in Chablis and it will cost you a tenth of the price of the same amount of premier cru land in the Côte d’Or,” Curie said.

“Plantings in the region are increasing every year and there’s sill space to expand but I’m not sure everyone is planting in the best spots,” he added.

In terms of grape prices, with the 2011, 2012 and 2013 harvests all significantly down in the region, according to Curie, 2013 grape prices were up 60% on 2009.

“We ended up having to sell our wine on allocation for the first time last year as there was so little of it. We made 20,000 bottles when we usually make 40,000,” he said.

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